Disconnected Faith

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SHAFAQNA- We are accustomed with the thought that the faith we believe in and the world we live in are two separate states. It is generally assumed that if one leads an Islamic way of life then one will not be able to enjoy in this world. This leads to a notion that having an Islamic faith implies impractical style of living. Thereby, a faithful man is either disconnected from the ‘worldly’ world or the worldly man is considered a stranger to the Islamic society. More importantly, a believer who follows the obligatory Islamic jurisprudential laws as well as leads a regular ‘40 hours a week’ corporate working lifestyle considers his two states as two distinct lives. In this piece of information, let us try to analyse a believer’s life with respect to the popular conception of two contrasting phases of faith (deen) and world (dunya). Allah willing, we will also attempt to find possible solutions, if any, to connect them together.

Apparently, there is nothing wrong in this notion that the faith and the worldliness can be kept separate. On one hand, a believer has fixed working hours where he/she has to attend business meetings, deal with the family, bosses, clients, co-workers or employees and on the other one has Thursday nights supplications, obligatory prayers and ‘an Islamic Calendar lifestyle’. The same story goes for students who have to attend classes, make projects, hangout with non-Muslim friends in addition to attending Islamic classes or Islamic events. As for the homemaker wives and mothers, they also spend their time in cleaning the messy homes, cooking, shopping and talking to relatives. This seems like a picture perfect life for all of them where one gets ‘best of both the worlds’. Aren’t earning for a living, looking after one’s kids, schooling and playing considered Halal or in fact recommended activities? Yes but before we get misplaced in the tornado of this lifestyle, zooming-in on this picture perfect life would help.

From catching a train in the morning, finding the seat in the bus, avoiding as many red lights as possible during driving, spending productive time in office/school to the same journey back home where one spends time with the family encompasses the working events of contemporary humans. At the same time, the non-working ladies of the house spend time in the mundane household activities. This is practically the world of the present-day believers where in all the activities the constant feeling of faith is absent from the heart. In the circle of this lifestyle, we only strive to adjust our Islamic faith and duties. There is no doubt that the believers will be rewarded for all the recommended acts that they perform. But in leading such a life, we tend to be oblivious of the presence of Allah (swt) and the intercessors. This could be a complicated issue and with some sincere efforts and guidance from Allah, we may be able to find the missing links between ‘our world’ and the faith. By doing this, we will be able to lead a more meaningful and beautiful life of this world including the hereafter.

The faith is disconnected because of our telescopic perception of the ‘world’ and our system of dealing with the worldly affairs. Whenever we come across a regular or irregular situation, we are exclusive of remembering Allah (swt). We only include Allah in our lives when we are doing something religious such as praying, fasting or charity. We call to our prayers by verbally saying ‘Allah is Greater’ but we do not actually practice it or feel it in our heart.

Imam Jafar as-Sādiq (peace be upon him) has said: “When you say: Allāhu akbar, slight whatever is there between the high (heaven) and the earth, regarding it below His Majesty, because if Allah looked into the heart of the servant while telling the takbīr, and saw therein something contradicting his takbīr, He would say: “O you liar! Are you deceiving Me? By My Might and My Majesty, I will deprive you of (tasting) the sweetness of remembering Me, and I will exclude you from My proximity and from getting pleasure through your supplication.” (Misbāh ash-Sharī’ah, chapter 13)

Reading this beautiful hadith, we can reflect upon several situations where we have regarded other things greater than Allah. There is no need in getting into details of such situations. We would all agree that we have created deities in our hearts which stop us from connecting our world to the faith because at that instant we only want to please our so called idols or the instigating Satan. Nevertheless, we claim to achieve proximity of Allah in our intentions before doing any religious action. Thus, it seems that remembering Allah much in all our activities whether they are directly related to Islam or not would help connecting the faith with ‘our world’.

An important aspect in linking our deeds with the faith is continuous reliance upon Allah (tawakkul). The Holy Quran (3:159) says, “…then place your trust in Allah; surely Allah loves those who trust (Him).” So what if we do not get our children admitted into the best school of the town, so what if we cannot please our boss or the client, so what if we missed the ‘buy one get one’ deal, so what if somebody has an opinion about me and this chain of so what never ends. As long as our reliance is on Allah and we are giving the efforts keeping Allah in mind then our world comes under the influence of beautiful and uncorrupted faith. If we seek help from Allah during tough as well as normal times then He would remember us as the Holy Quran (2:152) confirms “So remember Me; I will remember you. And be grateful to Me and do not deny Me.”

In another important tradition, Imam Ali Raza (peace be upon him) has said, “Faith has four pillars: Tawakkul on Almighty God, be pleased with His decree, surrender to God’s order, completely entrusting (one’s affairs) to God.” (Ar-Rayshahri, Mizan al-Hikmah). This tradition completely conveys the message about the significance of the correct faith. If we possess all the four pillars then our attitude will tremendously change not only in terms of strengthening our faiths but also redefining our world.

Having discussed that, it is not easy to remember about the four pillars of faith at all the times. This would come by sincere effort. If we keep informing our hearts that whatever is happening is the decree of the Almighty then we will not try to change the consequence but rather try to put the effort by entrusting our affairs to Him unconditionally. For example, if a person such as our employer is disappointed with our work, we should strive to improve our efforts but at the same time we should leave the outcome to Allah, the Exalted and the Powerful. Similarly, during normal circumstances we should yearn to keep Allah as the source of inspiration and reliance. Obviously, it is a difficult task. That is why we should seek the intercession of the Holy Prophet and our infallible Imams. We testify about the prophethood of our beloved Prophet and guidance of Imams (peace be upon them) in the Adhan and Aqamah of the Salat and with our true intentions, they would definitely help us with their intercession to please Allah and get proximate with the Lord.

We should keep reminding ourselves that this life has been bestowed to us by Allah even though we deserve little so we should at the least keep our faiths intact and connected with our world. Informing our heart endlessly about the Might of the Lordship will only make our faiths stronger. Ayatullah Khomeini (may Allah be pleased with him) in his book Adabus Salat talks about the preconditions of the worship such as to humility, removing the egoism and selfishness, and exhibiting absolute servitude. In fact, these prerequisites are not only for the Salat but are the magical ingredients to connect our faith with the world that we had created. The feeling of complete faith has to dominate our tasks of day to day life and only then we would be able to connect ‘our world’ with the disconnected faith. Our world which we assume is exterior to our faith is actually an all-inclusive baby that needs proper care and nurturing by the parental-guidance of our faith through sincere efforts and help from Allah (swt).

We are accustomed with the thought that the faith we believe in and the world we live in are two separate states. It is generally assumed that if one leads an Islamic way of life then one will not be able to enjoy in this world. This leads to a notion that having an Islamic faith implies impractical style of living. Thereby, a faithful man is either disconnected from the ‘worldly’ world or the worldly man is considered a stranger to the Islamic society. More importantly, a believer who follows the obligatory Islamic jurisprudential laws as well as leads a regular ‘40 hours a week’ corporate working lifestyle considers his two states as two distinct lives. In this piece of information, let us try to analyse a believer’s life with respect to the popular conception of two contrasting phases of faith (deen) and world (dunya). Allah willing, we will also attempt to find possible solutions, if any, to connect them together.

Apparently, there is nothing wrong in this notion that the faith and the worldliness can be kept separate. On one hand, a believer has fixed working hours where he/she has to attend business meetings, deal with the family, bosses, clients, co-workers or employees and on the other one has Thursday nights supplications, obligatory prayers and ‘an Islamic Calendar lifestyle’. The same story goes for students who have to attend classes, make projects, hangout with non-Muslim friends in addition to attending Islamic classes or Islamic events. As for the homemaker wives and mothers, they also spend their time in cleaning the messy homes, cooking, shopping and talking to relatives. This seems like a picture perfect life for all of them where one gets ‘best of both the worlds’. Aren’t earning for a living, looking after one’s kids, schooling and playing considered Halal or in fact recommended activities? Yes but before we get misplaced in the tornado of this lifestyle, zooming-in on this picture perfect life would help.

From catching a train in the morning, finding the seat in the bus, avoiding as many red lights as possible during driving, spending productive time in office/school to the same journey back home where one spends time with the family encompasses the working events of contemporary humans. At the same time, the non-working ladies of the house spend time in the mundane household activities. This is practically the world of the present-day believers where in all the activities the constant feeling of faith is absent from the heart. In the circle of this lifestyle, we only strive to adjust our Islamic faith and duties. There is no doubt that the believers will be rewarded for all the recommended acts that they perform. But in leading such a life, we tend to be oblivious of the presence of Allah (swt) and the intercessors. This could be a complicated issue and with some sincere efforts and guidance from Allah, we may be able to find the missing links between ‘our world’ and the faith. By doing this, we will be able to lead a more meaningful and beautiful life of this world including the hereafter.

The faith is disconnected because of our telescopic perception of the ‘world’ and our system of dealing with the worldly affairs. Whenever we come across a regular or irregular situation, we are exclusive of remembering Allah (swt). We only include Allah in our lives when we are doing something religious such as praying, fasting or charity. We call to our prayers by verbally saying ‘Allah is Greater’ but we do not actually practice it or feel it in our heart.

Imam Jafar as-Sādiq (peace be upon him) has said: “When you say: Allāhu akbar, slight whatever is there between the high (heaven) and the earth, regarding it below His Majesty, because if Allah looked into the heart of the servant while telling the takbīr, and saw therein something contradicting his takbīr, He would say: “O you liar! Are you deceiving Me? By My Might and My Majesty, I will deprive you of (tasting) the sweetness of remembering Me, and I will exclude you from My proximity and from getting pleasure through your supplication.” (Misbāh ash-Sharī’ah, chapter 13)

Reading this beautiful hadith, we can reflect upon several situations where we have regarded other things greater than Allah. There is no need in getting into details of such situations. We would all agree that we have created deities in our hearts which stop us from connecting our world to the faith because at that instant we only want to please our so called idols or the instigating Satan. Nevertheless, we claim to achieve proximity of Allah in our intentions before doing any religious action. Thus, it seems that remembering Allah much in all our activities whether they are directly related to Islam or not would help connecting the faith with ‘our world’.

An important aspect in linking our deeds with the faith is continuous reliance upon Allah (tawakkul). The Holy Quran (3:159) says, “…then place your trust in Allah; surely Allah loves those who trust (Him).” So what if we do not get our children admitted into the best school of the town, so what if we cannot please our boss or the client, so what if we missed the ‘buy one get one’ deal, so what if somebody has an opinion about me and this chain of so what never ends. As long as our reliance is on Allah and we are giving the efforts keeping Allah in mind then our world comes under the influence of beautiful and uncorrupted faith. If we seek help from Allah during tough as well as normal times then He would remember us as the Holy Quran (2:152) confirms “So remember Me; I will remember you. And be grateful to Me and do not deny Me.”

In another important tradition, Imam Ali Raza (peace be upon him) has said, “Faith has four pillars: Tawakkul on Almighty God, be pleased with His decree, surrender to God’s order, completely entrusting (one’s affairs) to God.” (Ar-Rayshahri, Mizan al-Hikmah). This tradition completely conveys the message about the significance of the correct faith. If we possess all the four pillars then our attitude will tremendously change not only in terms of strengthening our faiths but also redefining our world.

Having discussed that, it is not easy to remember about the four pillars of faith at all the times. This would come by sincere effort. If we keep informing our hearts that whatever is happening is the decree of the Almighty then we will not try to change the consequence but rather try to put the effort by entrusting our affairs to Him unconditionally. For example, if a person such as our employer is disappointed with our work, we should strive to improve our efforts but at the same time we should leave the outcome to Allah, the Exalted and the Powerful. Similarly, during normal circumstances we should yearn to keep Allah as the source of inspiration and reliance. Obviously, it is a difficult task. That is why we should seek the intercession of the Holy Prophet and our infallible Imams. We testify about the prophethood of our beloved Prophet and guidance of Imams (peace be upon them) in the Adhan and Aqamah of the Salat and with our true intentions, they would definitely help us with their intercession to please Allah and get proximate with the Lord.

We should keep reminding ourselves that this life has been bestowed to us by Allah even though we deserve little so we should at the least keep our faiths intact and connected with our world. Informing our heart endlessly about the Might of the Lordship will only make our faiths stronger. Ayatullah Khomeini (may Allah be pleased with him) in his book Adabus Salat talks about the preconditions of the worship such as to humility, removing the egoism and selfishness, and exhibiting absolute servitude. In fact, these prerequisites are not only for the Salat but are the magical ingredients to connect our faith with the world that we had created. The feeling of complete faith has to dominate our tasks of day to day life and only then we would be able to connect ‘our world’ with the disconnected faith. Our world which we assume is exterior to our faith is actually an all-inclusive baby that needs proper care and nurturing by the parental-guidance of our faith through sincere efforts and help from Allah (swt).

Article written by: Jafar Hasan

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